Published On: Sun, Aug 3rd, 2014

Fearing Residents’ Pushback, Google, Facebook, Shuttles Pay to Use SF Bus Stops

rally against google buses

Google and Facebook bowed to local groups who don’t like their private shuttle buses taking their employees to work,  and agreed to pay a fee for using city bus stops in San Francisco,  Reuters reported.

The two companies have been providing their own transportation service for years to reverse commuters who live in San Francisco and work in Silicon Valley.

Now the two high tech titans, together with other companies, will pay the San Francisco public transportation company $3.55 every time one of their shuttle buses stops at one of the city’s public bus stops.

A new pilot program was begun on August 1, in which the private companies’ buses will use more than 100 specific bus stops throughout San Francisco and will pay the fee for each stop. The program is scheduled to run for 18 months.

Community activists in San Francisco have been complaining for years that the shuttle services were the cause of gentrification in the city. In their view, the buses encourage wealthier people to live in the city rather than in the suburbs, taking up housing in formerly working and middle class residential neighborhoods and driving up the rents.

Back in 2013,  Oakland protesters attacked a Google bus, smashing a window and distributing fliers reading “Get the fuck out of Oakland” to Google employees on board.

 In San Francisco, demonstrators blocked an Apple bus, holding signs and even carrying a wooden coffin bearing the message “Affordable housing.”

“We want the ruling class, which is becoming the tech class, to listen to our voices and listen to the voices of folks that are being displaced, ” said one SF protester.

Residents also complained that when they use public bus stops, the private shuttles interfere with the public buses.

According to The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, more than 35, 000 trips are made every day in and out of the city by the shuttles, and it expects to bring in $3.7 million from the pilot program.

SFMTA spokeswoman Kristen Holland said of the plan, “For many years now we’ve had commuter shuttles operating within the city. They are large charter buses that are regulated as vehicles themselves, outside of our purview. We’re just regulating where they stop.”

A google spokesman said, “We’re grateful to the SFMTA for taking the lead on the pilot and look forward to working with the city and participating shuttle operators to refine the program.”

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